Tenants of Public Housing are Entitled to Privacy

In Ireland, tenants of Public Housing are treated as 2nd class citizens.

The view is that Public Housing tenants get something for nothing, so they must forfeit their rights and be grateful.   This view is confirmed by Cork County Council’s ongoing Rent Review (the same happens in all local authorities), which again imposes on the privacy of all residents in Public Housing, adults and children, possibly in violation of Data Protection and Child Safety Law.

The reality is that life-long tenants of Public Housing pay fully the cost of the property they are renting, but at the end of the day they own nothing – average social-housing rent is just over €50 per week.  If anyone is getting ‘something for nothing’ in social housing it is the Local Authority.

Here is the Notice of Motion I proposed to Cork County Council on 14th January 2019:

How can any tenant give consent to such open-ended inquiries into the affairs of another adult, a 3rd party?  Why is such broad scope of inquiry requested in relation to minors, is this safe or even relevant?

In response the Council’s Executive stated that they were acting within the law and he refused to refer the matter to the Council’s legal department for an opinion, he suggested that if any Council member wanted a legal opinion they could get that privately.  This is outrageous, I am a Council member and a number of constituents asked me to raise this question in my official capacity, but I’m told by the Chief Executive that this wasn’t the “Council’s business”.

If a private landlord threatened to increase rents over 300%, for any reason, let alone a threat to a families privacy, what would be said?  For starter, a legal case could be taken to the Residential Tenancy Board to stop it – but tenants of Public Housing have no such rights.

There is no excuse for Council not to respect tenants, information required for a rent review can be collected without the need for such intrusion.